When you’re making a presentation, you’ve got a lot invested.

You may have spent your organization’s money outsourcing the creation of the presentation. You may have spent significant time tailoring it and/or rehearsing it. You may be training employees in skills they sorely need for themselves and the organization to succeed.

So you’ve got plenty of reasons to do it right. And yet, hard-working managers go out every day and do their presentations wrong. What gives?

The worst presentation errors are unconscious, and they fall into four categories. Here they are, along with suggestions for avoiding each presentation trap:

  • Physical posture mistakes. Don’t present with your hands in your pockets. It looks sheepish and awkward. Keep your hands above your waist and in front of your body. Also, avoid presenting while sitting down. Standing is a position of greater authority.
  • Apologizing. It’s amazing how many presenters apologize for taking up the audience’s time, or thank them in advance for it. Never suggest that the audience could be doing more important things than listening to you.
  • Getting thrown off course. Employees have the right to ask questions, and you want them to. But you don’t want people to interrupt your flow each time a question comes up. Practice taking note of questions and holding them until later.
  • Letting the materials take over. You are the presentation. The materials are there to help you. If you recite from the slides, you’ll bore everybody stiff. Explain in your own words. Also, know what’s coming, and build it up: “The next slide contains the most important point of all.”

Source: “The Ultimate Sales Machine,” by Chet Holmes.

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